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The Web - I Spider CD (album) cover

I SPIDER

The Web

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.11 | 84 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars The British band THE WEB are definitely NOT a band for arachnophobes! There's nothing at all scary about their first album "Fully Interlocking" (1968) with its colourful kaleidoscope image on the cover, but their second album "Theraposa Blondi" (1969) features a huge and extremely scary goliath bird-eating spider on the cover which is enough to give you nightmares if you're at all scared of spiders. Thankfully, we're reviewing their third and final album here, "I Spider" (1970), with a curious image of a hand in the shape of a bird's head on the album cover. There was a fourth album in 1971, but the band had changed their name to Samurai by then, so that's another story for another time.

The amusingly-titled, five-piece suite "Concerto for Bedsprings" opens the album, consisting of:- 1. "I Can't Sleep"; 2. "Sack Song"; 3. "Peaceful Sleep"; 4. "You Can Keep The Good Life"; and 5. "Loner". Judging by some of the sub-titles in this 10- minute-long epic, it's dedicated to insomniacs everywhere, although you're unlikely to sleep through this lively Jazz-Rock number. Part 1 "I Can't Sleep" has obvious similarities with the electrically-charged music of Van der Graaf Generator. There's a powerhouse performance from the keyboard player and the vocals are just as erratic and over-the-top as those of Peter Hammill in VDGG. The singer announces at the end of Part 1 "I've got to get some sleep", but there's absolutely no chance of sleeping through the powerful sound of "I Can't Sleep". Part 2 "Sack Song" is a Jazzy cocktail lounge instrumental, sounding somewhat reminiscent of Hatfield & the North in some of their mellower moments, and Part 3 "Peaceful Sleep" is a slightly off-key slice of Canterbury Scene-style Jazz. Part 4 "You Can Keep the Good Life" is a return to an energetic, pounding percussive wave of Van der Graaf Generator-type Jazz-Rock, featuring a scintillating sax solo, and Part 5 "Loner" is a brief return for another bright sunburst of Jazzy cocktail lounge music with a spring in its step to conclude "Concerto for Bedsprings". The whole ten-minute piece is a constantly shifting dynamic, weaving a complex web of stirring Jazz-Rock in dazzling combination with floating mellow waves of the Canterbury Scene sound. All in all, it's a shaken and stirred aperitif of Jazz and Rock combined together into a heady cocktail of great music. Watch out, there's a spider about in the title track coming up next: "I Spider". Let's hope it's just an incy-wincy spider and not a frightening goliath bird-eating spider, or ""Theraposa Blondi" to use the Latin name. No worries, "I Spider" is a slow processional march dominated by the sound of dynamic keyboards and sonorous saxophone. The stately music is soothing and sophisticated, but be prepared because this understated tune has fangs and it creeps up on you unexpectedly (like a spider) and delivers a mighty bite with a crashing crescendo of sound emerging for the grand finale.

Opening Side Two now is "Love You", although this is no gentle sentimental ballad. No, this is a sonic explosion of high-energy Jazz-Rock, so fasten your seat belts and brace for impact. Make no mistake, this is an out-and-out raucous rocker! The bizarrely-titled "Ymphasomniac" is up next. So, what on earth is an "Ymphasomniac" you may well ask. Well, no one knows because it appears to be a uniquely made-up word for the purposes of this album. Don't let the strange song title put you off though, because this is a great song. It's a simply sensational Jazz-Rock jam session, featuring an extended dazzling display of virtuosity, with all of the musicians given the chance to display their magnificent plumage in bright musical colours. It's a real album highlight. You could *almost* believe The Web are a Canterbury Scene band because the final song "Always I Wait" is an 8-minute-long weird but wonderful excursion into the realms of experimental Jazz-Rock. The music sounds slightly discordant at times, but it's ultimately rewarding, like all of the best Canterbury Scene music.

Imagine, if you will, a delicious shaken and stirred cocktail of Van der Graaf Generator in glorious combination with Hatfield & the North and that's the kind of unique album that The Web have woven here. "I Spider" is an album full of constant surprises. Hear it for yourself on the World Wide Web.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |

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